Kevin McGauran on the ball for St Mary's Granard in this tussle with Ballymahon opponent Thomas Mulvihill. Action from the Senior Football Championship Group 3 second round game. Photo: Declan Gilmore
Ballymahon produced a very impressive second half performance to score a great victory over Granard in the Senior Football Championship Group 3 clash at Devine Park on Sunday last as clinical finishing moved them a big step closer to a place in the quarter-finals.
Ballymahon . . . 4-9 St Mary’s Granard . . . 1-6
St Mary’s, on the other hand, were guilty of kicking several costly wides in this severe setback and must now beat Colmcille in Round 3 on Sunday evening next to keep alive their hopes of reaching the last eight in the Connolly Cup.
Their cause was badly hampered when centre-half-back Vinny Nally was sent-off after receiving a straight red card with six minutes gone in the second half but even with the 14 men Granard enjoyed a lot of possession but failed to make it count on the scoreboard.
A tremendous goal from Joe Kelly, who blasted the ball to the net after setting off on a penetrating run through the opposing defence, materialised in the 29th minute and it left Ballymahon holding a slender 1-2 to 0-4 lead at the break.
Liam Keenan’s side had to wait until the 23rd minute for their opening score, a free converted by Colm Flynn, at which stage St Mary’s were 0-3 to 0-0 in front with the points coming from Paul Smyth, Liam O’Rourke (free) and wing back Dylan Corcoran.
O’Rourke fired over another free late in the first half, with Kyle Fitzmaurice landing a well struck effort for Ballymahon, and the unbeaten Division 2 league leaders made a terrific start to the second half with a point apiece from Kevin Diffley, Colm Flynn and Joe Kelly.
And things went from bad to worse for Granard as after Vinny Nally was dismissed they conceded a second goal when a mistake was punished by Eddie Noonan who finished the ball to the net in the 39th minute.
Ballymahon extended their comfortable advantage with a point from the dangerman Joe Kelly to lead by 2-6 to 0-4 before St Mary’s were thrown a lifeline moments later with a fisted goal from Liam O’Rourke that was created by Darren Gallagher.
The gap was closed to four points when substitute Liam Sullivan (back in action after injury) shot over the bar and then came a decisive factor in the eventual outcome.
A shot from Liam O’Rourke hit the crossbar in the 53rd minute, much to the dismay of the frustrated St Mary’s supporters, and Ballymahon launched an immediate counter-attack that yielded a point from Kyle Fitzmaurice who was also a constant threat in attack.
Although Granard replied with a point from a free converted by another substitute David Hynes, they completely fell apart in the closing stages as Ballymahon ran riot in adding another 2-2 to their most emphatic tally to win by the rather flattering margin of 12 points in the finish.
Following a point and a goal from Kyle Fitzmaurice, substitute Thomas Lennon (who was just brought on) shot to the corner of the Granard net in the third minute of stoppage time.
Another Joe Kelly point brought the scoring to a close for Ballymahon who will be in a very confident frame of mind when they face St Brigid’s Killashee in the next round this Friday evening.
BALLYMAHON: Jack Fox; TJ McArdle, Kevin Diffley, James Daly; Mark McCormack, Matthew Daly, Ros Claffey; Thomas Mulvihill, John Nevin; Eddie Noonan (1-0), Joe Kelly (1-3), Pedro Byrne; Kyle Fitzmaurice (1-3), Colm Flynn (0-2, one free); Gareth Murtagh.
Subs:- Sean McMullen for E Noonan (45 mins); Thomas Lennon (1-0) for P Byrne (a minute into stoppage time); James Kenny for J Daly (two minutes into stoppage time); Aaron Kennedy for T Mulvihill (four minutes into stoppage time).
ST MARY’S GRANARD: Declan Hynes; Edward Smyth, Thomas Gallagher, Paddy McGivney; Mark Tully, Vinny Nally, Dylan Corcoran (0-1); Charlie Martin, Darren Gallagher; Derek Sheridan, Kevin McGauran, Paul Smyth (0-1); Ian Small, Liam O’Rourke (1-2, points from frees), Niall O’Hara.
Subs:- Liam Sullivan (0-1) for K McGahern (half-time); Brian Sheridan for I Small (36 mins); David Hynes (0-1, free) for N O’Hara (45 mins); Eoin Sheridan for D Corcoran (56 mins).
Referee: Ger Carberry (Killoe Emmet Og).